Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Kalcon employees in Karowe mine at loggerheads with management

Kalcon employees at the Karowe Diamond/AK6 mine are aggrieved with their employer’s refusal to attend to their grievances.

Some of the aggrieved employees told this publication that despite numerous efforts at resolving outstanding issues, management does not seem keen.

The employees’ grievances range from poor salaries, bad working conditions and failure by management to afford them a hearing.┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á

They accuse the company of oppressing them and that scores of employees have been threatened with dismissals when voicing their concerns.

“Ever since we began work with the company in 2012 at the mining site, we do not have even a medical aid despite the fact that we work in a health and safety hazardous environment. The management of Kalcon does not recognize us. We even reported the issue to Botswana Miners Workers Union who are also dragging their feet to help us,” they alleged.

The employees are further blaming Botswana Miners Workers Union (BMWU) for negotiating with their employer without their consent and involvement.

“We are also not happy with the fact that BMWU has a habit of negotiating with the employer without much consent although we have given them benefit of doubt. Failure by the company to give us medical aid benefit is a very serious issue because as we are speaking, there are a number of employees who are sick and cannot afford medical expenses from their pockets,” said the disgruntled employees.

The employees said that accidents are rife at the mine and the management ignores the health and safety issues affecting employees in the workplace. They also said that whenever employees request for rest due to fatigue, they are threatened with dismissals.

“Whenever an employee is fatiqued and requests for time to rest, they refused time off and threatened with dismissal. Working under fatigue contributes to accidents,” the employees said.

Kalcon director Jan Van Tondre dismissed the accusations by the employees. He said that the company follows proper procedures with Botswana Miners Workers Unions to address issues affecting employees.

“The issue of salaries and medical aid benefit is still being negotiated with the union. The rest of the other issues that they are raising are absolute nonsense. We recognize our employees and we follow appropriate labour practices. Kalcon is a company that adheres to high safety and health standards in all its operations. It is not true that we do not take heed of the safety and health of our employees,” he said.

Reached for comment, BMWU General Secretary, Bob Malele, said that they are aware of the grievances of Kalcon employees. He said that negotiations are currently ongoing with Kalcon management to resolve grievances.

“Kalcon is a new company at the mine, so when it started its operations last year it did not have all the needed benefits for employees. We have a collective labour agreement with the company and last year they started implementing some of the benefits for employees. Negotiations are currently ongoing. It is true that some of the benefits have not yet been implemented but we are hopeful that they will be implemented,” he said.

Asked if it was true that they were dragging their feet in addressing the employee grievances and are not involving employees in negotiations with the company management, Malele dismissed the claims saying that if the employees feel that they are not well represented they have the right to report their concerns through appropriate union structures or appeal to the General Council of the union.

“We are aware of the allegations that we do not involve Kalcon employees when we negotiate with their employer but that is not true. The problem is that the employees never openly come forward to address these issues with us. We hear of all these issues through the grapevine. It seems some of the employees do not know how the union operates,” he said.

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